Saturday, February 21, 2015

Suffering for Goodness Sake

Today's (1st Sunday of Lent [Year B]) second reading in context.

It is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil,...for Christ died to offer us to God!

Melius est enim benefacientes (si voluntas Dei velit) pati, quam malefacientes. 1 Peter 3:17

Quia Christus semel pro peccatis nostris mortuus est, iustus pro iniustis, ut nos offerret Deo, mortificatus quidem carne, vivificatus autem spiritu. 1 Peter 3:18

In other words, we are made to do what He did: to offer ourselves to God, innocently (or, as innocently as possible [e.g. repentant]) for the guilty! offer them (the guilty) to God! We must become Christ! Die for the sins of others! addition to your own! Killed in the flesh, vivified in the spirit!

Die to the flesh and live for the spirit, albeit in the flesh, offering yourself to God in Christ, in His offering once for all!

I especially like the Latin verb for "to offer" us to God: προσαγαγη.
That is why Christ--the innocent for the guilty--died, to offer us up! Offer them up! Become another Christ! That is the will of God for you in Christ!

Cf. Spe Salvi, the final section on "the settings" of hope: prayer, "offering it up" (35-40), and the judgement.

"All serious and upright human conduct is hope in action." Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 40.

P.S. An anecdote for the youthful days of Joseph Ratzinger.
Walter Fried of Munich, one of the young men who in 1943 served with Joseph Ratzinger (under compulsion) in the youth soldier anti-aircraft defense batteries, in an Der Spiegel interview relates that a high-ranking officer came by for an inspection, and each man had to say what he wanted to be someday. Many said they wanted to become pilots..."When Ratzinger's turn came, he said he wanted to become a priest. There was some derisive laughter. But of course at that time it did take some courage to give such an answer." My Brother, the Pope, 121.

P.S.S. Mercy is the greatest Power. (Taken from Benedict XVI 2005 Address to the Roman Curia, the first of His Pontificate)
We have behind us great events which have left a deep mark on the life of the Church. I am thinking first and foremost of the departure of our beloved Holy Father John Paul II, preceded by a long period of suffering and the gradual loss of speech. No Pope has left us such a quantity of texts as he has bequeathed to us; no previous Pope was able to visit the whole world like him and speak directly to people from all the continents.
In the end, however, his lot was a journey of suffering and silence. Unforgettable for us are the images of Palm Sunday when, holding an olive branch and marked by pain, he came to the window and imparted the Lord's Blessing as he himself was about to walk towards the Cross.
Next was the scene in his Private Chapel when, holding the Crucifix, he took part in the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum, where he had so often led the procession carrying the Cross himself.
Lastly came his silent Blessing on Easter Sunday, in which we saw the promise of the Resurrection, of eternal life, shine out through all his suffering. With his words and actions, the Holy Father gave us great things; equally important is the lesson he imparted to us from the chair of suffering and silence.
In his last book "Memory and Identity" (Rizzoli, 2005), he has left us an interpretation of suffering that is not a theological or philosophical theory but a fruit that matured on his personal path of suffering which he walked, sustained by faith in the Crucified Lord. This interpretation, which he worked out in faith and which gave meaning to his suffering lived in communion with that of the Lord, spoke through his silent pain, transforming it into an important message.
Both at the beginning and once again at the end of the book mentioned, the Pope shows that he is deeply touched by the spectacle of the power of evil, which we dramatically experienced in the century that has just ended. He says in his text:  "The evil... was not a small-scale evil.... It was an evil of gigantic proportions, an evil which availed itself of state structures in order to accomplish its wicked work, an evil built up into a system" (p. 167).
Might evil be invincible? Is it the ultimate power of history? Because of the experience of evil, for Pope Wojtya the question of redemption became the essential and central question of his life and thought as a Christian. Is there a limit against which the power of evil shatters? "Yes, there is", the Pope replies in this book of his, as well as in his Encyclical on redemption.
The power that imposes a limit on evil is Divine Mercy. Violence, the display of evil, is opposed in history - as "the totally other" of God, God's own power - by Divine Mercy. The Lamb is stronger than the dragon, we could say together with the Book of Revelation.
At the end of the book, in a retrospective review of the attack of 13 May 1981 and on the basis of the experience of his journey with God and with the world, John Paul II further deepened this answer.
What limits the force of evil, the power, in brief, which overcomes it - this is how he says it - is God's suffering, the suffering of the Son of God on the Cross:  "The suffering of the Crucified God is not just one form of suffering alongside others.... In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order:  the order of love.... The passion of Christ on the Cross gave a radically new meaning to suffering, transforming it from within.... It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love.... All human suffering, all pain, all infirmity contains within itself a promise of salvation;... evil is present in the world partly so as to awaken our love, our self-gift in generous and disinterested service to those visited by suffering.... Christ has redeemed the world:  "By his wounds we are healed' (Is 53: 5)" (p. 167, ff.).
All this is not merely learned theology, but the expression of a faith lived and matured through suffering. Of course, we must do all we can to alleviate suffering and prevent the injustice that causes the suffering of the innocent. However, we must also do the utmost to ensure that people can discover the meaning of suffering and are thus able to accept their own suffering and to unite it with the suffering of Christ.
In this way, it is merged with redemptive love and consequently becomes a force against the evil in the world.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...